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Updated: Each locality to have direct bus route to Valletta, Mater Dei

Minister shoulders responsibility for service

Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Each locality is to have a direct line to Mater Dei and to Valletta as from November 6, Transport Minister Austin Gatt said this morning.

Speaking at a news conference announcing the fifth series of changes to the new transport system, he said that the system where each locality would have a direct bus route to Valletta and Mater Dei was being reintroduced.

A number of interchanges to new routes would also be introduced.

Dr Gatt said that the new system had introduced the concept of interchanges, which under the ATP service did not exist.

The old bus system had operated on a hub and spoke system while the new system had been based on interchanges.

As of November 6, there will be a mix of the two.

The minister said that the government had originally decided to go for the interchange system because it was used everywhere abroad, it reduced pollution and costs and increased route and system possibilities.

Moreover, the former system had failed because only 12 per cent of the public had used the buses.

The interchange system had introduced services to the airport, regular services to small villages, such as Bahrija and Manikata, as well as new connections. Moreover, all villages and towns now had a bus service until 11 p.m.

Dr Gatt said that a total of 112 routes were being adjusted on November 6.

Speaking on the feedback received, he said this could be divided into four categories - that requesting shorter routes, feedback calling for direct routes to Valletta, feedback calling for direct routes to hospital and other feedback.

The minister said that as from November 6 there will be more frequent buses from Cottonera to Mater Dei and from Luqa to Valletta. The buses linked to the Gozo ferry will fall in line with the scheduling of the ferry service both in Mgarr and Cirkewwa.

Services from Valletta to the Floriana health centre and from Valletta to Karin Grech will be introduced.

Dr Gatt pointed out that when the service was run by the ATP there were 33 buses an hour to Mater Dei, now there were 52. These were to again be increased.

Dr Gatt said he shouldered the responsibility for what had happened with the service and accepted that the government had made a mistake.

“We might have been too ambitious, too avant garde and we might have expected too much in believing that the routes would start working perfectly from day one.”

He said that his ministry and Transport Malta would continue to monitor Arriva and from November 4 it would be able to start imposing route fines.

The company was, however, already being fined for a number of issues including faulty handles, drivers smoking and a lack of fire extinguishers on buses.

TM had around 50 people out every day monitoring the situation and the IT system would hopefully be in place by the end of month.

Dr Gatt said that there were still around 10 routes that had unacceptable serious problems especially between 6 and 9 a.m.

He encouraged people to continue giving feedback and pointed out that the new routes would bring about a number of changes for Arriva. The 17 to 20 buses the company had brought over to keep up with demand would remain here and training was ongoing.

The company also had a lot of pending applications. It had brought back a group of British controllers this week to deal with some defects found in the middle management system.

The November 6 changes can be seen in detail in the pdf presentation below.

Attached files

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